Being a Traveling Homebody
Over the past couple of years, I’ve discovered the joy of traveling. The only issue is that I’m also a massively introverted homebody, which makes being in a foreign country for extended periods and doing new things with new people every day a challenge. Fortunately, I’ve figured out a few things that ease my longing for home when I’m away that help me thoroughly enjoy my holidays.
Bring Home With You
I drink ridiculous amounts of tea, and I drink it from a half-liter stein. Hotels tend to come with about three teabags, piddling little cups, and nowhere near enough milk — so I pack my own! Bringing a box of teabags and a big, cheap mug (cheap so I can ditch it at the end of the trip if need be with no guilty feelings) goes a long way to making me feel a lot more normal.
Something that feels like home is not going to be a steaming mug of tea for everyone, of course. It could be another food item from your home country, a particular perfume, a cozy sweater, an old favorite book, the blanket from your couch. It may not be something that you’d typically travel with because it’s not practical or necessary, but I find it makes such a huge difference to bring that piece of home with you. It’s not a waste of luggage space if it makes you enjoy your vacation more.
Keep to Your Routine
In a similar vein to the above, if there’s a typical way you start or end your days (or do right in the middle, you do you) at home, it’s beneficial to carry that routine with you as you travel. A big part of holidays is letting go of your usual day-to-day activities, but as a homebody, I find I need to keep up with some things to a degree. Perhaps if you usually hit the gym for an hour in the morning, you could instead do a quick bodyweight circuit in your hotel room. Merely doing something to keep yourself feeling grounded and normal can really help you feel settled.
Again, doing this may require you to bring some things with you that you wouldn’t usually pack for a trip. If you want to make sure you can watch your favorite sports game, you may need to bring a laptop that you’d otherwise leave at home so you can stream it online. If you tend to play board games with your family in the evenings, then it could be worth looking into some games that pack down small. But most of all, it involves “wasting” a bit of time by doing your usual, home-like things, rather than exploring the place you’re in. For me, that’s a sacrifice that more than pays off.
Celebrate The New
All the new things you experience when traveling, especially when visiting new countries and even more so when there are vast differences in language and culture, can be very overwhelming. Unbelievable, incredible, and fascinating, but overwhelming. Sometimes, if you’re a person whose favorite place is the familiar comfort of home, new experiences can be almost too much when they are unending. You want to enjoy them to the utmost, but it can be a challenge.
My counter to this feeling is to deliberately celebrate each new experience, even the ones that are unpleasant or difficult. How I do this is to take a step back mentally and see things through the lens of telling my friends or family about it later. This dulls the immediacy of any emotions, which is particularly helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious or things just aren’t going right, and lets you also frame the experience in the way you want. It helps you focus on the things that you want to remember — the flavor of strange food, the ambiance of a beautiful place, the sounds of a different city. And if you are unfortunate enough to be having a bad time with something, it can help you envision the desirable outcomes and next steps, which can be hard to do in the moment sometimes.
This Too Will Pass
Lastly, another twist of mentality that I find helpful is to remind yourself that travel is only a temporary thing. Embrace the new while you can because soon it will be only a fond memory, photos on your phone, and souvenirs on the shelf. Enjoy it all because of its fleeting nature. Next week you’ll be back at home you love, and things will return to comfortable normality.
This all may make it sound, at least to people who aren’t also introverted homebodies, like travel is a challenging, tricky thing. And you know what? It is. It’s also a beautiful, exciting, life-altering thing that is an absolute privilege to be able to do. It’s both and more. And that’s okay — especially since I’ve learned ways to take care of myself so I can truly get the most out of the travel that I get to do.